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Some disgrace that's out of place - 50%

666GodListensToSlayer666, January 30th, 2018

As a fan of Flotsam And Jetsam, I find something enjoyable about every album they've made up to this point bar Unnatural Selection. They've had their highs and lows, but no one can deny the importance and impact of their first two records. Doomsday For The Deceiver and No Place For Disgrace are classics of the thrash metal genre, and the latter album was rebirthed into a 2014 rerecording. With the original album's lineup intact and more refined production values, the rerecording is better than the original on paper, but something went wrong.

Upon first listen, the production is clean and polished not unlike modern metal records, and that may attract Flotsam fans who prefer their records without the unrefinement of the original No Place For Disgrace, but I'm not the biggest fan of it. When the t/t opens the album, everything sounds good, but then I notice the mighty riff of the title track sounds...slower. 20bpm slower may not sound like a big deal, but add on the thin sound design, and it neuters the speed and grit of the original song. Eric. A sounds good for his age here, but that can't hide the fact he fell flat on that high note just before the calm interlude that opens to the song's solo section. He just can't hit those high notes like he used to, and he sounds tired here, and songs like "Hard on You" and "Dreams of Death" make it an almost painful reality. It's still the same album from 1988, but the fluffy, clean production, changed lyrics, aged vocals, and slower tempo makes the material hard to enjoy.

This rerecording isn't without its merits. "N.E. Terror" and "Escape From Within" may have had the best transitions on this rerecording because they're not much slower than the originals and sound good with the clean production values. Eric. A does his best on those tunes and emphasizes my favorite aspect about his 'aged' voice: his lower register. "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" is more true to the original song than the 1988 version and isn't half-bad. "The Jones" is still "The Jones" and sounds good with the cleaner production as well.

I didn't expect this to surpass the original album, but it should've been better. If the rerecording treatment were to be bestowed upon Doomsday For The Deceiver, I wouldn't be looking forward to it. Not a total failure, but this was a disappointment.

Thrash metal's answer to alopecia isn't an answer - 50%

autothrall, June 3rd, 2016
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Metal Blade Records

It's not all that uncommon these days for veteran thrash and heavy metal acts to offer up re-recordings of particular albums, or even to throw together a compilation of hand picked tracks that have been reworked in a studio to give the modern fanbase a taste of what their classic material should sound like when brought up to the standards of their recent fare. Perhaps it's a bunch of songs the band uses live, and they want kids to be able to grab the newer versions to play on their .mp3 players with more compression. Whatever the cause, it generally fails, and also serves to confuse and convolute a legacy best appreciated through experiencing the originals, for all their flaws. That's not ALWAYS the case...for instance, I rather dug Destruction's ironclad Thrash Anthems re-recordings, the songs seemed to work in the context of their modern hits like those found on The Antichrist. But the odds, they are against it.

I consider Flotsam & Jetsam's sophomore No Place for Disgrace (1988) to be their seminal work, unrivaled by anything else they've ever recorded. Maybe they felt the same, since they saw fit to spend the effort re-recording it. Granted, if I had one complaint about the original, it would have been in the production department, since it just doesn't hold up quite like other albums I own from its era. The guitars and bass seem a little thin, and it's lacking some punch. However, the fantastic tracks there easily overcame, and continue to overcome such nitpicking, and that's sort of what I meant above. It's 'flawed', but despite that one of the more memorable second tier US thrash albums of its day and age. I didn't hold out a lot of hope for this remake once becoming aware of it, because this is just not a band that has really delivered consistently, and I expected them to flub it up. They've had a couple good songs strewn about their substantial discography of the 90s and 00s, but they were vastly outnumbered by all of the disappointments. Reviewing this now, after hearing their latest eponymous disc, which I actually enjoy, I think they might also have been trying to fire up some inspiration by revisiting this material...

And to its credit, the 2014 No Place for Disgrace doesn't suck. It's not good, not even really worth the while, but I've certainly heard bands shit all over their histories, when this is just sort of taking a long leak on one. The rhythm guitars are 'richer' and have a little more punch commensurate with their most recent material, and certainly this lacks some of the issues with the original. But it also springs up more...Flotsam & Jetsam just doesn't sound as vital and hopeful as they once were. Part of this is in Eric A.K.'s performance, which doesn't seem as engaging or high pitched as it once felt. He's firing for a wider range on these recordings, and a long-time fan will notice the gulfs where he missed the mark at some of those critical moments. The clarity of several guitars seems to have leeched the speed from a number of the riffs, and this might even have been intentional, I didn't sit there keeping pace with both simultaneously, but the vivacious energy is missing, especially during slower parts like the the breakdown in "N.E. Terror" which feels like a slog, and in which Knudson's voice does seem a little processed (as it does elsewhere here).

Now, there are a few sequences in which the remake does feel solid, as in the intro to "I Live You Die", but even there I don't think I'd choose this over the old one. The drums and bass are much better balanced, especially the latter, which is all over the thing...so I might not have reminded a 'remaster', maybe using this bassist (he had appeared on a prior demo, but only rejoined the band for this and their new album). On the whole, though, this just feels like a band trying to tap into a prior impulse and coming up slightly short. It's not offensive, and a lot of the note patterns come together with that same magic they once did, yet I don't really think I'd ever require another listen to this after jotting down some thoughts. Fortunately, the band has since produced some newer material which is a lot more exciting to me, but I hope there are no plans to give Doomsday for the Deceiver such a treatment.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Why so slow? - 50%

jk2two, May 27th, 2016

First off - I don't automatically hate re-recorded albums. Testament's "First Strike Still Deadly" is a fantastic album - honoring the material while beefing up the production. That's the whole point of these things isn't it - to take a classic album that has aged poorly and beef up it's production with the new technology available? So, enter Flotsam and Jetsam's re-recorded sophomore album, recorded on it's 25th anniversary. While Doomsday remains my favorite of theirs, this second album has found its way in regular rotation for me. So, seeing that they re-recorded it, I was eager to see the transformation.

From the opening notes of the title track one thing is abundantly clear - it's slower. And I'm not talking, take the speed down a pinch so it sounds cleaner and tighter, I'm talking "someone left the parking brake on and we're pushing this sucker as fast as we can, but it just ain't keeping up." This is especially painful on the album's quicker cuts. N.E. Terror, an old favorite of mine, sounds labored and sluggish. This album just plain drags. In some cases, the re-recorded version is over 30 seconds longer than the original, and that's not because they've added new sections, it's simply because it's slow. Check out the slow-as-hell "fast" riff on P.A.A.B. (around the 1:40 mark) - what the hell happened?

Now I understand this is an aging thrash band, but I don't think that justifies it. Listen to Slayer's new stuff, they're still keeping up. There is no excuse to slow down classic thrash metal tunes to this degree. It's "thrash metal" after all, lets thrash a little.

Now there are positives to this outing. The production is a definite improvement - beefier guitars and a more present low-end help things have a decent punch (albeit a slow one). Eric A.K's voice is still pretty impressive as well. Granted, he's lost his shrieks for the most part, but he sings each track with nuanced style, and he remains the highlight for me. The slower tracks are much easier to live with as well, because the tempo change is not as apparent. The album's closing instrumental feels fresh and energized - probably the best track here, and I think it's because the tempo decrease actually gives it more attitude.

The other gripe I have is with the changes to the original material. Changing the lyrics to Hard on You and altering the guitar leads on nearly all of the tracks (going so far as to omit the entire double-lead harmony on Misguided Fortune) is unnecessary and also a little off-putting. It's a classic for a reason, if you're going for a cash-in that's fine, but honor the original material.

Flotsam and Jetsam were an underrated band back in thrash's heyday. I tried to push them on any of my thrash friends who were willing to expand their playlists. The first three Flotsam albums are still refreshing to return to, because they have catchy riffs, good speed, and a unique vocalist. This re-imaging really suffers from a decrease in tempo from the original material, and the result is the band sounds old and tired. It simply makes me want to listen to the original instead.

There are some disgraceful moments here! - 55%

overkill67, March 13th, 2014

Althought not a total failure, many problems present themselves after listening to this album. The major problem that I have, is that I keep comparing it to the original version from 1988. I realize an immediate improvement in both the mix as well as the production, however, the songs have really been bastardized.

First off, Eric AK's vocals have really taken a hit in the last 25 years. Never has this been so obvious than after listening to these re-recorded tracks. His falsetto is virtually all gone and he is unable to hit ANY of the high notes which were so prevalent on the original version. Apparently studio magic couldn't even correct this difficiency. Even the background vocals have been completely modified and in some cases, removed completely from certain songs.

Secondly, the guitar solos have been changed substantially. Not sure why this was done, I mean in Eric's case, he just can't sing like he used to, but as far as the guitaring goes, why have they modified many of the original solos? I could see this happening if Mark Simpson was still in the band, as it was obvious on the DVD releases that Mark always had trouble playing Mike Gilberts solos properly, but these are the same guys who played on the original recording for goodness' sakes. I don't get it! Sadly the best lead on the album is from a "guest" musician.

I suppose we must take into consideration that the band obviously does not own the rights to this album, and much like Exodus did with the Let There Be Blood release, they tried cash in on a legendary classic, (which they may), unfortunately however the end result is simply not very flattering for the band. I would have much rather heard this album polished in its original form, remixed and remastered, just like they did with their debut album back in 2006. At the end of the day, if you truly love this band, I suppose buying the album to support them is one thing, but if you are looking to acquire this album because you love the original release from 1988, think twice!

No disgrace on the original but a lot in place - 70%

slayrrr666, March 11th, 2014

The re-recorded effort of Flotsam and Jetsam’s second album, “No Place for Disgrace,” seems to serve several purposes and is more prominent for that factor than anything related to the quality of the actual music within.

While there’s a decided lack of the youthful energy and aggression that dominated the original, this still has plenty of great moments about it. Staying true to the compositions of the original tunes, that leaves this effort filled with the early style of the band’s sound where they were at the forefront of mixing together thrash and power metal into a cohesive, enjoyable whole. Taking the raging violence and complex riff arrangements from thrash with the harmonies and melodies of the US power metal scene at the time which was all about injecting clean lines into the tight rhythms and creating a strong sense of melody at very fast tempos, this is adequately replicated here with the songs still given fairly close representations of that familiar song just done with a heavier emphasis on the thrash on this release which tends to rob the whole effort of the vibe and atmosphere that was such a presence on the original. There’s a heavier, meatier guitar sound here that really overpowers the melodic interjections throughout, even though they’re still present but in just small concentrations that don’t have that rather generous sound and atmosphere that dripped off the original. As well, the fact that the advancing years has meant that the chords and patterns are played at slower speeds has also given the songs a little extra length overall compared to the originals with each lasting about twenty plus seconds longer than their counterpart which actually manages the impressive feat of exploiting the technically-complex patterns within the compositions that was buried in the original mix because it’s all much clearer sounding than before and you really can hear every drum-beat, every bass-line and the riffing come through with a better clarity than before. It does drop a lot of the power metal feel generated from the original by doing so, especially when combined with the meatier guitar tones already discussed here as the whole mix now makes the songs seem like rather melodic, mid-paced power metal-inspired thrash tracks performed in an old-school manner from a genre originator rather than a cohesive effort of original material, as if the band were wanting to inject more speed and dynamics into their material but were less capable of doing so. The biggest culprit here is the vocals, which don’t have the same range and prowess the originals possessed which leaves them with a disappointing vibe in many cases but still comes quite close in many tracks to their original notes. That, much like the down-play in tempo, has more to do with the advanced age of the members and not on the material itself, which is a lot more passable here than in most cases.

As a whole, the songs still come off fairly well. The title track is still a raging speed monster with various tempo changes, strong melodic leads and pounding drumming careening throughout the varying pace, the explosive intro still has a raging quality to it and it comes off quite impressive. ‘Dreams of Death’ manages to become quite a solid and beefy mid-tempo chug, a similar fate which befalls ‘N.E. Terror’ only with a more enhanced bass-solo this time around as it races through its paces. ‘Escape from Within’ becomes even more hypnotic with its trinkling intros and solid throbbing bass-lines getting better definition and sounds a lot more massive this time around as the beefier production thickens the guitars much more which makes their raging middle half seem all the more explosive and thrashing, undoubtedly coming off the best from the re-do. The stuttering tempos in ‘Hard on You’ comes off rather well and definitely has some of the same attitude as the original which was very bouncy and melodic at times. The best songs on the original, ‘I Live You Die’ and ‘Misguided Fortune’ are thankfully just as impressive this go-round, each sounding absolutely massive with thunderous drumming, manic riffing and utterly unrelenting tempos that rage with abandon even if they don’t offer as much of a change as other songs, actually making for enjoyable offerings on their own with their thrashing atmospheres still coming through much more than others on here.

However, there are still some songs that have changed for the worse. The Elton John cover still sounds horrid and totally out-of-place as the happy-go-lucky attitude and hard-rock pace conflict even more with the originally-penned tunes here than it did on the first release, and the struggles to hit the high-notes become quite embarrassing after a while, the only real place on the album where that becomes noticeable. ‘PA.A.B.’ is still pretty solid but comes off as utterly cheesy with the toiling bells, dreary pace and droning riffing dominating this one which aren’t enough to overcome the influx of energy throughout. Lastly, instrumental ‘The Jones’ becomes an extended bore with the repetitious riffing patterns and lack of real variation getting swallowed up in the extended performances that plague every track on here as well as the beefier mix making the guitars’ continual blaring of the same riff over-and-over right in your face and all the more noticeable. This is the one song on here that really suffers due to the new production on this one rather than the original which gave it a life and really made it breathe, not so much here on this one.

So, that just leaves the burning question with this release: is it worth it to re-record an entire album and not really change too much about it? That really depends on how you feel to the answer given, about the band being unable to secure rights for a re-mix and re-issue the original the way their first album was re-released with the original mix and then the newly remixed effort alongside it. The final result of doing the album at a slower speed is somewhat of an issue to get over, the difference in recording technologies that replaces the grace and dynamics of the original with a clean, sterile mix that leaves the effort without any real sense of dramatics or emotion. For most, that is the major stumbling block on this record and what really will determine how this one goes down. On its own, there’s some good stuff here that will certainly please the open-minded that can see what the band’s going for here, and for those willing to take a change on this it does have some rewards within that will certainly please those looking for them.